TALKING POINTS: Liverpool 0, Burnley 1

Burnley created ripples around the footballing world on Thursday night, as they ended Liverpool's 68-game unbeaten home record.
Ashley Barnes celebrates his winner at AnfieldAshley Barnes celebrates his winner at Anfield
Ashley Barnes celebrates his winner at Anfield

It was the Clarets' first win at Anfield since September 1974, as Sean Dyche added to his long list of historical achievements at the club.

And, more importantly, the victory gave Burnley a seven-point cushion from them and Fulham in 18th place, as they approach the midway point of the season bang on target to stay up, after a tricky start.

Here are the talking points.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The last time Burnley won at Anfield, courtesy of an Ian Brennan screamer 47 years ago, Carl Douglas was the UK number one with Kung Fu Fighting.

Douglas sung: "They fought with expert timing", and everything the Clarets did against the champions was with great precision.

Sitting in the gods at Anfield, away from the regular press box in the current circumstances, you got a bird's eye view of the action, and the level of planning that must have gone into the gameplan was plain to see.

The triggers for the press, cutting off passing lanes, staying compact, shuffling across as a unit and passing on opponents to pick up, knowing exactly where you are on the pitch, timing of challenges - it was a defensive masterclass.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A lot of what Burnley do under Sean Dyche can be lazily dismissed as just getting bodies behind the ball, but this was a showcase of a team absolutely determined not to concede at all costs, to protect their goalkeeper, and enjoy the ugly side of the game.

You could only marvel in their efforts, and to then get a winning goal at the other end was the icing on the cake.

Ben Mee was Sky's man of the match, but you could have chosen any of the defence, and I include substitute Erik Pieters, who was a colossus after coming on for Charlie Taylor with half an hour to play, up against the newly-introduced Mo Salah.


Since Ben Mee returned to the side, Burnley have collected six clean sheets from 12 games, two of which have come at Arsenal and Liverpool.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

You may get all manner of criticism on social media - the 'I'm glad I don't have to watch that every week' brigade, but if you stay in the game against more talented opponents, you always have a chance.

The argument over style and substance is as old as the game itself, and you can see where people are coming from when they praise the likes of Leeds and Brighton for their commitment to attacking football, even in defeat.

But, ultimately, we all saw Burnley relegated in their first Premier League season, after half a season under Owen Coyle where they were punished, particularly away from home, for taking the game on and leaving themselves wide open at the back.

Blackpool similarly went down a year later, when you wondered if they had been a touch more pragmatic at times, they probably would have survived.

Maybe it wasn't in their DNA.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But Dyche is firmly of the opinion that you can't beat the elite at their own game, and you have to find another way to get a result.

And he is now the only manager to win at two reigning champions with the same club.

As he said after the game: "We've had to be effective over many years and people question us, and I have no problem with that at all.

"Most people want football to be played like Barcelona, and it isn't that easy for every team - some can play that type of football, others can't.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We work on effective football, and part of that is to defend well, and I think we can do that, but you have to get the balance right, and we still haven't quite got that, but we did tonight.

"We will have to adjust that and keep working, but we still have 19 points, which is very pleasing, and a big win at Anfield."

As Stan Ternent famously said: "It's Burnley, not Barcelona!"


You had to rub your eyes in disbelief when Mike Dean pointed to the spot, and VAR upheld his decision, after Ashley Barnes was tugged back by Fabinho - who was on a booking - and got his toe to the ball before being clipped by Alisson.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was the Clarets' first spot kick in 20 games since July, when Chris Wood won and converted a penalty against Wolves.

Prior to that, Burnley had won only four penalties in 111 games since the start of the 2017 season - the fewest in 35 European leagues.

It has stuck in the throat, especially when you have seen some of the spot kicks given against, and denied, Burnley in that time.

Even so, there was much debate afterwards, but as soon as you saw Barnes get his toe to the ball, and then get caught by Alisson, there could only be one outcome.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Barnes showed great confidence and composure to slam home the penalty, and as Dyche said: "It is a penalty.

"We're one in 24 to get penalties, which, in the modern game, I don't know how that's possible.

"If we're due one, it's a good place to get one!"


Ashley Barnes won and scored the penalty to secure victory against Liverpool, and claim only a second goal in 24 appearances.

But, as in the home defeat to Manchester United last week, he looked close to the Barnes that Burnley fans love, and other supporters love to hate.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He is the equivalent of a David Speedie, El Hadji Diouf, Diego Costa, Luis Suarez or even Jamie Vardy.

The late Stockport County boss Danny Bergara accused Burnley's Ted McMinn of being a "wind-up merchant" after the 1994 Second Division Play-Off Final win at Wembley, and Barnes is of the same ilk, playing on the edge of the rules, a master of the dark arts.

As on numerous occasions, memorably when up against David Luiz at Chelsea two years ago, Barnes had the Liverpool defence in a tizzy.

Joel Matip, Thiago and Fabinho all got needlessly involved in tussles with Barnes, with Fabinho avoiding a red card after a VAR check for kicking out at the striker.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Barnes had the last laugh, and, as a bonus, his goal was the 100th of his career at senior level - and 45th for Burnley - was just reward.

Many doubted his ability to score goals at this level, but, love him or loathe him, he has been one of Dyche's best buys, and ridiculous value for money.


Two years ago, after a 4-2 defeat at Liverpool, Sean Dyche raved about the performance of a 19-year-old Dwight McNeil, up against one of the best emerging talents in Europe, in Trent Alexander-Arnold.

He said: "There were a lot of good things, culminating in a top-drawer performance from Dwight McNeil.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"That young man has got a massive chance of being a top player in my opinion.

"He continues to grow every time and every time I wonder if I should leave him out I think no, keep him playing, it's good for him. If he keeps his head down and keeps working like he is doing then he has a massive future in my opinion.

"I thought he was winning the battle against a fantastic right-back [Trent Alexander-Arnold]. I thought Dwight was outstanding with his composure and belief with what he does."

Fast forward a couple of years, and while Alexander-Arnold has a Champions League, Premier League and Club World Cup winners' medal, McNeil has continued to develop and look at home in the big league.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

And he gave Alexander-Arnold another difficult night, protecting the ball well, running at the right back, and delivering quality crosses.

Dyche purred: "He is a very talented player and he gives you those moments and he did tonight when it counted.

"His game awareness is improving and understanding is improving all the time.

"I think he is an all-rounder, some young players have one side to their game and he is beginning to form into an all round player and I like that about him.

"He had his moments, that's for sure."

McNeiil looked back to his best after a brief spell out injured, and a repeat of this sort of form can only bode well for Burnley.